4 Myths about Resistance Training for Women Over 50

Fitness

You are a Wise Woman.

So don’t Be Miss Informed. Read on, I’m going to BUST some myths for You.

You may THINK you are a complete novice when it comes to strength training exercise.

Think again. When’s the last time you did a few loads of laundry, carried several bags of groceries from the car to the kitchen, shoveled snow (thank Goodness that’s in my past now that I’m a Texan), or picked up and carted a grandkid around on your hip while gathering up all the toys scattered around the house?

It’s true, your non-exercise physical activity does COUNT.

You may be doing a great job adding more activity to your days by standing while watching the grandkid’s ballgame, parking further away, climbing the stairs at work, and maybe using a treadmill desk.  KUDOS to you! More of all that good stuff. But if you’ve never done formal resistance training, or if the last time you did it was “way back when” in your college days, I’m going to take you by the hand and encourage you to step into your power! Be BOLD. Leap out of your comfort zone.

In this article we are going to expose 4 myths about resistance training for women over 50:

  1. Myth: There’s no time to fit it into your schedule
  2. Myth: Weight Lifting is Dangerous if you are over 50
  3. Myth: You have to go to a gym or buy a bunch of equipment
  4. Myth: Your body is just too old to see any benefits

First, I want to define resistance training for you

Have your been picturing in your mind’s eye a gang of sweaty brutes in a dingy gym with huge dumbbells scattered all over the floor? You’ll find out that it is quite simple and easy to get your training done in the privacy of your own home with little or no equipment. These days many gyms, personal training studios and fitness centers have offerings for the women over 50 crowd! Fun and social, ideal for you extroverts!

The American College of Sports Medicine offers this definition¹: Resistance Training is a form of physical activity designed to improve muscular fitness by exercising a muscle or a group of muscles against external resistance. ACSM identifies specific trainable characteristics of resistance training, strength, power, hypertrophy, and endurance.

Myth #1. So you think you don’t have enough time to do Resistance Training

Truth: In the case of resistance training, Less IS More

Forty is the new Sixty (minutes, that is). In my practice, I recommend 2 sessions a week, each workout about 40 minutes. Several benefits to your health can be obtained in only two days a week. If you are brand new to resistance training², or are currently de-conditioned (a kinder, gentler way of saying, “You have allowed yourself to get completely out of shape Sister”), start slowly. Perform very low intensity moves, utilizing light weights and fewer reps. Begin with 15 – 20 minute sessions.

Myth #2. You’re worried that you’ll sustain an injury

Truth: ANY exercise, at any age, done INCORRECTLY can result in injuries

Done properly, resistance training has extraordinary benefits (see below). It’s always important to perform your exercises with proper biomechanics. So working with a qualified personal trainer or joining a small group class is a good idea, at least initially. You may have “weak links” in your kinetic chain, often caused by old injuries. This will mean that certain movements may be contraindicated. An evaluation and possibly treatment by a physical therapist or a Chiropractic Sports Physician will start you off on the right foot. Do it right from the start. Invest in yourself. You deserve it. (See resources.)

Myth #3. You’ll have to join a gym or clutter up your house with exercise equipment

Truth: Resistance training can be done at home utilizing the weight of your own body weight without any equipment.

Yes, it’s really that simple. And you can begin immediately. Examples of body weight exercises are planks, wall sits, pushups and lunges. Certain yoga poses are also good, such as downward dog and chataranga. Look on YouTube for body weight exercise. There are a plethora of excellent DVDs available. Must have for me . . . music that moves me! I’m preferential to club/dance/techno. Get outside. Go barefoot. Find a soft grassy area in the yard, follow up with a power nap in the sunshine. If you want to invest in equipment, I recommend purchasing a few “toys” to keep it interesting. Try a BOSU, Swiss Ball, bands, tubing, dumbbells, kettle bells or rebounder.

Myth #4. You think someone your age doesn’t need to do it

Truth: Resistance Training is a MUST DO if you want to enjoy optimal health as you age.

Engaging in Resistance Training on a regular basis is like drinking straight from the Fountain of Youth. If you’re not engaging in Resistance Training on a regular basis, you are missing out on some amazing benefits. I know how you want to age. You are committed to avoiding medication, enjoying abundant energy and vitality, and feeling strong, powerful and graceful. So, My Dear One Resistance Training is simply not Optional.

Myths Busted. Time to Inspire You into ACTION . . .

Some of the BENEFITS of resistance training: (there are many MORE)

  • improved bone density and bone matrix
  • better posture
  • improved balance
  • performance enhancement (sport and sex 😃 )
  • Better brain health (BDNF)
  • increased BMR
  • increases in GH
  • reduced IR (beats out Metformin)
  • improved body composition
  • reduction in anxiety³

Personally, I LOVE the feelings Resistance Training gives me. I began “old school” strength training in 1980 (wow). I fell in LOVE with this type of exercise. The process itself and the physical, mental and emotional benefits, well, it had me at “hello”.  Since then, I have continued to study and stay abreast of the latest research on exercise physiology. These days, my workouts are informed by the current principles of exercise science, so my routine looks quite a bit different. Every week I enjoy one group class at a nearby personal training studio. My other weekly session is in my home gym with TABATA-style body weight exercises.  I’ll also use my BOSU, kettle bells, tubing and dumbbells for variety.

What to do if you never “Fall in Love” with Resistance Training

You may never fall in LOVE with the activity of resistance training. Remain open to the possibility that you just may develop a love affair with resistance training, especially since there are so many fun ways to get it accomplished. I promise you will LOVE the feelings gained by incorporating it into your life. The sense of accomplishment, grace, power and . . . will be worth the brief time you set aside each week to care for your body, mind, heart and soul.

Put on groovy music that moves you. Do it in your living room or your bedroom. Go out into your backyard barefoot (yup, I’ll explain why you need to train barefoot in a later article) and do it in the grass (or with boots in the snow!) Head to the neighborhood playground. Go to the gym. Join a class.

SUMMARY:

  • we’ve uncovered 4 TRUTHS about resistance training
  • you can do it with a minimal time commitment
  • is important that you learn proper biomechanics. this will reduce the likelihood of injury
  • you can do it at home with little or no equipment
  • it is imperative you do it as you age
  • we’ve listed some of the many benefits of resistance training
  • we’ve made several suggestions about where and how so that you can choose what works for YOU

So What’s Your Next Step?

DECIDE that you are going to give it a try. Put your 2 weekly sessions ON YOUR CALENDAR right now.

I want you to commit to 28 days and see how you feel, emotionally, mentally and physically.

***If you are new to resistance training, or have been sedentary for a while, please seek guidance from a trained professional before you get started.

Resources:

References:

¹ ACSM https://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/resistance-training.pdf

² https://www.researchgate.net/publication/271846766_The_Effects_of_Resistance_Training_Frequency_on_Strength_Gains

³ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4090891/  The anxiolytic effects of resistance exercise

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